Our Story

Our journey from Scotland’s first creative ageing festival continues as we explore new ways of working, share learning, support new skills and build capacity to develop creative ageing work in Scotland.

Trading Wisdom, Luminate Festival 2015
Photo: Eoin Carey

Luminate is Scotland’s creative ageing organisation. We want all older people to be able to take part in arts activities, whatever their circumstance and wherever they live.

Luminate Festival 2012 – 2019

Luminate was founded in 2012 as an annual creative ageing festival in response to evidence that participation in the arts reduces as we age, particularly over the age of 75. The Festival aimed to inspire, support and increase participation.

Seven Luminate Festivals showcased 2500 events, spanning music, dance, theatre, film, visual art, photography, literature and spoken word.

People took part in different ways – as artists, audiences, participants – and in many different places, from theatres, concert halls and art galleries, to care homes and community centres.

It put a spotlight on the variety, innovation and cultural importance of artistic work being created by, with and for older people in Scotland and internationally.

And it challenged deeply held assumptions and prejudices about growing older.

A shift in focus

Outreach projects to improve opportunities for older people who do not have regular access to arts and cultural experiences had always been an important part of the Luminate Festival.

In 2017 we began to shift our focus to longer-term projects. Art Adventures in Nature, which is running a three-year artist residency in partnership with Unforgotten Forces and Erskine care homes, and Artfelt (2018), which brought together a care home and local nursery, are testing new ways of working.

Our programme of training and development for artists and professionals who work in care settings and the community also grew.

And the success of our residencies for older emerging artists, which began in 2017, showed just how many ambitious older artists now work in Scotland and how important it is to advocate for, and support, their needs.

Luminate began to shift from running an annual festival towards a more strategic role in developing arts and ageing work across Scotland.

A leadership and development organisation

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on arts participation and creative ageing work has been huge. However, the resilience, determination and creativity of individuals and organisations has also resulted in innovation, particularly in the use of technology.

Projects like Creative Ageing in the Pandemic (2021) show that artists, working with care staff, can lead arts activities remotely. Although it will never replace face-to-face, a blended approach is likely to continue.

As we move forward, Luminate will continue to ensure older people are visible through their art, and their voices heard.

We will continue to build skills and capacity through training and development.

And we will  work with partners, nationally and internationally, to explore new ways of working, share our learning and effect wider change.